1. Pope Asks Bulgaria To Welcome Migrants.

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2019, Pg. A10

Pope Francis urged Bulgaria to welcome the migrants it blocks in his latest statement against rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe.

“I respectfully suggest that you not close your eyes, your hearts or your hands—in accordance with your best tradition— to those who knock at your door,” the pope said Sunday in Sofia, Bulgaria, during a speech to President Rumen Radev and other dignitaries.


2. Catholic charity urges Trump not to cut aid to East Africa.

By Crux Staff, Crux, May 6, 2019

CRS is the international development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Trump administration is currently trying to cut aid to international aid organizations – including CRS – working in the region.

Davis told Crux inadequate rains coupled with harsh weather conditions have left many parts of East Africa facing drought conditions. In addition, the lack of water and reduced agriculture production has raised prices for food.

In South Sudan, CRS has been working collaboratively with the UN World Food Program to airdrop food supplies where it is most needed; in Somalia, the Catholic charity provides emergency food aid for those displaced by violence and threat of the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab, with the help of U.S. funding.


3. Why is ‘viability’ the abortion criteria?

By George F. Will, The Washington Post, May 5, 2019, Pg. A23, Opinion

Six states have passed “heartbeat bills” to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, approximately six weeks after conception. Such bills are, indeed, unconstitutional given the court’s Roe ukase that abortion cannot be restricted before a fetus is viable outside the womb — which means, presumably, before the fetus is a child. 

But why should “viability” be the dispositive criterion? Viable means capable of surviving outside the womb, which no infant can do without constant help that others must give. Must. No infants are “viable” in that all are helpless, and the law requires that help be given by those responsible for the infant.

The changed composition of the Supreme Court, and the supposed imminent danger that Roe will be overturned, is the excuse that pro-abortion extremists have seized upon to do what they want to do anyway: to normalize extreme abortion practices expressive of the belief that never does fetal life have more moral significance than a tumor in a mother’s stomach. (Most European nations restrict abortions by at least week 13. France and Germany are very restrictive after 12, Sweden after 18.)


4. Pope Says Emigration, Low Birth Rates Have Brought ‘Ice Curtain’ on Europe.

By Reuters, May 5, 2019

Pope Francis urged European leaders on Sunday to address wealth inequality and low birth rates which he said had created an “ice curtain” between Europe’s richer and poorer states and was fuelling emigration.

Francis was speaking during a two-day visit to Bulgaria, his first and the first by a pope in 17 years. He also met with leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He moves to North Macedonia on Tuesday.


5. Federal rules protecting freedom of conscience are a win for medical professionals.

By Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, Fox News Online, May 5, 2019

Countless doctors and nurses across the country are welcoming new federal regulations promulgated by the Trump administration to protect conscience rights in health care. I know this because I’ve been hearing the growing murmurs of concern and even fear in hospital hallways and professional get-togethers as certain practices that have been traditionally repugnant to Western medicine gain wider acceptance. Concerned health care professionals fear that they won’t be able to avoid these repugnant practices and still find employment.

Even if we, as physicians or nurses, are still practicing without having to violate our ethical and moral principles – and our vow to “first do no harm” – we know that the space where we can do this is getting smaller every day.

The new federal rules seek to preserve that important space in health care for good doctors and nurses determined to practice the principles of Hippocratic medicine according to their conscience. It grants responsibility for enforcing the new rule to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

Under the new rule, the OCR will conduct outreach to the myriad programs under the aegis of the HHS. The office will ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance comply with their legal obligation to protect rights of conscience of their health care professionals. The OCR will also have the authority to investigate complaints of discrimination from doctors and nurses who are in danger of losing their jobs because they’re holding strongly to the highest ethical standards of medicine.

Our long and honorable tradition of protecting citizens’ deepest moral convictions from unlawful discrimination is one reason why oppressed and harried people from all over the world dream of coming to America. Ensuring that medical professionals remain free to practice their life’s work and stay true to the highest and noblest principles of their calling furthers that tradition.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie specializes in radiology in the Miami area and serves on the advisory board for The Catholic Association.


6. Pope tends to Orthodox ties, Catholic minorities in Balkans.

By Veselin Toshkov, Konstantin Testorides and Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, May 4, 2019

Pope Francis, who opened 2019 with trips to the Muslim world, is shifting gears to tend to Orthodox relations, with a delicate visit starting Sunday to the Balkan nations of Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

Francis will also minister to the countries’ tiny Catholic communities and meet with migrants, highlighting other papal priorities during the three-day visit to two of Europe’s poorest countries, where unemployment and brain drain are posing threats to the future.

It’s the first trip by a pope to North Macedonia, and will likely boost the landlocked country as it embarks on a new relationship with Europe following its name change that ended a decades-long dispute with Greece.


7. California to review sex-abuse responses of all 12 dioceses.

By The Associated Press, May 3 , 2019

The California attorney general’s office will review how all 12 Roman Catholic dioceses in the state handled allegations of child sexual abuse that have resulted in payouts of hundreds of millions of dollars to victims.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent out letters to the dioceses on Thursday, Sacramento diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery told the Sacramento Bee.


8. Trump comes through on religious liberty yet again.

By Nicole Russell, Washington Examiner Online, May 03, 2019, 01:16 PM, Opinion

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights issued its “final conscience rule that protects individuals and health care entities from discrimination on the basis of their exercise of conscience in HHS-funded programs.” The final rule serves as a way to implement and enforce more than two dozen provisions Congress has already passed which protect healthcare providers who function with a religious conscience.

 Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, a legal adviser for The Catholic Association, told me they applaud this decision, as no doubt many religious organizations will:

The administration’s new rule provides regulatory backbone to the First Amendment conscience rights of Americans working in the medical profession. No one should be forced to violate their conscience while serving our nation’s sick and suffering. Polling also shows that, despite the powerful hold that the abortion lobby and its allies have on many politicians, most Americans agree medical professionals with moral objections should not be required to perform abortions.


9. Infanticide After Failed Abortions: How Accurate Were Trump’s Remarks?, Many media outlets joined with Planned Parenthood in castigating the president’s assertions as false, but Centers for Disease Control statistics and personal testimonies tell a different story.

By Lauretta Brown, The National Catholic Register, May 3, 2019

President Donald Trump met with swift criticism from Planned Parenthood and media outlets like The New York Times and CNN after he paraphrased remarks from Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam regarding the killing of infants born after a failed abortion attempt.

However, some doctors, pro-life advocates and even abortion survivors have highlighted the real danger these babies face, pointing both to statistics and cases like that of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrate that the circumstance of an infant being born alive and then dying after an abortion attempt has occurred at least 143 times between the years of 2003 and 2014. The CDC said that “of the 143 deaths involving induced terminations, 97 involved a maternal complication or, one or more congenital anomalies.” The CDC also noted that “it is possible that this number (143) underestimates the total number of deaths involving induced termination.”

One case of an abortionist killing infants born alive after abortion procedures has been in the national spotlight. Kermit Gosnell was convicted in May 2013 of the first-degree murder of three infants born alive after attempted abortions and the involuntary manslaughter of one woman during an abortion.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a pro-life physician and policy adviser for The Catholic Association, told the Register in a statement that the stories of abortion survivors speak to the urgency of the issue.

“There are abortion survivors among us today who bear witness to the fact that their lives are as worthy of protection as anyone else’s,” she commented. “These infants who survive an attempt on their life while still in the womb deserve to receive the same standard of treatment that ‘wanted’ babies of the same gestational age receive. It is unconscionable that some politicians would deny abortion survivors this protection under the law.”


10. Attacks on Houses of Worship Reflect a Hatred of God.

National Catholic Register, May 3, 2019, Editorial

The two scenes of violence, while vastly different in scope and circumstances, provide further confirmation that religious communities are in the crosshairs of extremist forces fueled by grotesque ideologies and personal grievances.

Surveying the carnage wrought by the recent lethal attacks on believers, Princeton University law professor Robert George, the former head of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, warned that the “monsters who kill those gathered for prayer” will face “God on the charge of sacrilege as well as murder.”

Across the globe, Christians are among the most persecuted religious groups facing death, imprisonment and discrimination. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s annual report, released April 29, singled out repressive state practices in Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. But the report also spotlighted threats posed by “non-state entities,” like the Islamic State, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and al-Shabab in Somalia.

These developments aren’t new. But researchers have witnessed an ominous uptick in “government restrictions and social hostilities” directed at Christians and other religious minorities, according to the Pew Research Center.


11. How the South Sudanese bishops are working to promote peace.

By Alejandro Bermudez and Perry West, Catholic News Agency, May 3, 2019, 5:10 PM

The president of the Sudanese Bishops’ Conference said he believes peace in South Sudan is possible, but the process will take patience and humility from both the leaders of the country the local communities.

Bishop Eduardo Kussala of Tombura-Yambio said the conference is grateful for and encouraged by the pope’s meeting with the leaders of opposing groups in South Sudan.

“We have tried to keep the momentum, to continue to work harder and make sure peace is actually in this country….It has again energized us” to serve the leaders and the people, he told CNA.


12. France’s Other Burning Churches, The country needs to identify the circumstances and motives behind the attacks and take decisive action.

By Nina Shea, National Catholic Register, May 2, 2019

The flames that ravaged Paris’ Notre Dame riveted the world because it is a legendary, architectural masterpiece at the center of France’s capital and much of its political history. For those who track religious-freedom threats, the fire itself may be less of a surprise than that it apparently was started by accident.

Hundreds of other French churches are being quietly burned or damaged — in deliberate attacks.

Ellen Fantini, who directs the watchdog Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, told me in an email that church attacks in France have been relentless for the past four years. Thanks to her efforts and the diligent documentation of French journalist Daniel Hamiche, I can point to a few examples here. This destruction, at the hands of a variety of actors, barely receives a glance from the French state, prosecutors, media or public. Rarely are the attackers identified or apprehended.

We also see this happening to churches in Northern Cyprus, Egypt, northern Nigeria and other places where certain members of society are hostile to a small and weak Christian community and the government itself is indifferent.

To be sure, unlike these other places and in Sri Lanka over Easter, the French churches are not filled with worshippers when attacked — or, for that matter, hardly ever filled these days. Nevertheless, it is a shock to see the same governmental failure to protect houses of worship in a country with a strong rule of law.

The outpouring of emotion, prayers and funds after the Notre Dame blaze was heartening. And the heroic demonstration of faith of Father Jean-Marc Fournier, the Paris fire brigade chaplain who rescued from the burning cathedral the Blessed Sacrament, chalices, monstrances and sacred relics, was especially inspirational.

No graffiti or claim of responsibility has surfaced to suggest that the Notre Dame fire was anything but an accident. And while the example of Notre Dame may not rekindle appreciation for France’s Christian patrimony, it should stir a demand for the government to protect it.


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